Mwalimu Mati, the chief executive of Mars Group is even more candid in his assessment of Kibaki’s economic performance.
“In am not convinced President Kibaki achieved anything special on the economic front. He just implemented areas that suited him in the Narc manifesto,” observes.
Echoing Mati’s sentiments, Shikwati says for a man who ascended to power on the crest of massive goodwill, Kibaki was expected to do no less than he did.
“For a man who scaled up tax collection in Kenya, he must have had a productive working population in mind, but for some reason, he did less to actually get people to get work and produce,” he says.
This ‘lucky’ school of thought also seems to bounce its argument off Kibaki’s own management style. President Kibaki is famed for his ‘hands-off, eyes-off and even ears-off’ management style throughout his life in public service.
It is this narrative that seems to inform the portrait that has been drawn of Kibaki over the years. “That he never saw a fence that he didn’t sit on during the period.”
To critics of his legacy, this has made him more of an opportunist rather than economist — taking credit when things work and passing buck when they falter.
Sunil Sanger, an independent analyst, however, cut President Kibaki some slack.
“As finance minister, Kibaki had no meaningful economic legacy largely due to the heavy hand of politics on the economy,” Sanger says, adding that once he assumed power in 2003, Kibaki invested resources building infrastructure and resuscitating weak sectors of the economy.
Infrastructure under Kibaki has clearly received a huge boost — moving from 6.7 per cent of the budget to 22.52 in the 2010-2011 budget.
But its also Kibaki’s investment choices that expose him to criticisms. Shikwati says Kibaki has retained his belief of investing in “high potential areas” philosophy.
“This inadvertently, has bred dissatisfaction from areas that have largely been neglected over the years Like the Turkana,” Shikwati says, adding that the region only started receiving attention with news of huge oil find.
“There has been no radical shift from Kibaki’s mindset on growth in potential areas as opposed to investing in creative growth across the country.”
Kibaki inherited a country ranked among the world’s most unequal nations. According to a report dubbed Pulling Apart, Facts and Figures on Inequality in Kenya by Society for International Development (SID), Kenya is ranked among the 10 most unequal countries in the world and the most unequal in East Africa